New York Mets: Curtis Granderson Getting Warmer as Summer Approaches

Michael MandelkernContributor IIIJune 12, 2014

Curtis Granderson.
Curtis Granderson.Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

In many offensive categories, Curtis Granderson’s young season has been comparable to his abbreviated season with the New York Yankees in 2013. That is a cause for concern, but the rest of his 2014 should be better than his last 11 weeks.

He only played 61 games last season due to two hit-by-pitch injuries and posted an underwhelming .229/.317/.407 slash line with seven home runs and 15 runs batted in.

Through 63 games in 2014, he has been hitting and getting on base at about the same rate, recording a .224/.336/.386 slash line with eight home runs and 30 RBI, according to ESPN.

Outside of the basic statistics, according to FanGraphs Granderson has improved in other categories. In 2014, he has a 13.6 walk percentage compared to 11 percent last season, and his strikeout rate has dropped from 28.2 percent in 2013 to 25.7 percent this season.

Granderson reached base in every game he has played since May 18. However, he did not get a hit in seven straight games from May 25 to May 30, including a doubleheader against the Arizona Diamondbacks. On June 10, Granderson went hitless against the Milwaukee Brewers but drew a walk that contributed to a Taylor Teagarden grand slam.

As encouraging as his streak has been, Granderson is not getting paid $60 million for walks. His overall contributions are weighed down by a horrendous April in which he went .145/.265/.229. Not enough time has passed to restore his stat line to respectability, but at least he is on an upward trend.

Granderson is making strides this season and has shown what he is capable of when he gets hot. He went 15-for-44 from May 1 to May 13 with a double, four home runs and 12 RBI. So far in June he is batting .361/.432/.583.

The most progress he has made is in his plate discipline. Last season he swung at 31.3 percent of pitches outside of the strike zone, made contact with 69.5 percent of the pitches he swung at and swung at 45.3 percent of the pitches he saw.

Per FanGraphs, in 2014 he was 26, 71.7 and 42.2 percent in those respective categories. Granderson is noticeably better at laying off pitches in the dirt, getting deeper into counts and having longer at bats. 

Patience is a virtue, but so far Granderson's selectivity hasn't translated to an even decent batting average. The point difference between his on-base percentage and batting average is both a step in the right direction and upsetting due to how often he records outs.

Granderson’s history of serious damage at the plate dictates that he mashes when he catches fire. He hit over 40 homers with the Yankees in both 2011 and 2012. After an injury-shortened 2013, he might just be finding a rhythm on the Mets.

Yankee Stadium is notorious for being a hitter’s haven, and Granderson took advantage of its short right porch. But he can knock them out of big ballparks too, including his two-homer day against the San Francisco Giants on June 8. 

He looks fierce at the plate leaning back on his left leg, with his fidgety twitch in his right leg and his piercing eyes. Having a legitimate MLB bat with a history of success and All-Star appearances changes the complexion of the Mets lineup. Still, he has not provided as much protection to David Wright as the front office or fans hoped.

Productive outs and walks are better than striking out at an alarming rate, as Granderson did in April. Fans at Citi Field booed him at home bright and early in the season, and some labeled him as a bust, but it is too early to draw that conclusion. 

Fans are fickle, especially in New York. Citi Field does not shower him in jeers for now, but if Granderson succumbs to another cold spell he might get a rude welcome to the plate in Queens. Just keep in mind that he is on a roll this month.